KRG Secession Vote to Foment Fresh Crises

Majlis Speaker Ali LarijaniMajlis Speaker Ali Larijani

Majlis Speaker Ali Larijani said the Monday secession referendum in Iraqi Kurdistan would lead to “new crises”, as the region is still struggling to get rid of the menace of the self-styled Islamic State terrorist group.

“It is very unfortunate that while the IS project has not yet been finished, we see the issue of [Iraqi] Kurdistan independence being raised,” ISNA quoted Larijani as saying on Tuesday.

“We told different visiting [Iraqi] Kurdish delegations in no uncertain terms that the issue [of independence] would stir up new tensions inside Iraq because IS terrorist activities have not yet been solved,” he added.

On Monday, the people of the semi-autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan and some territories disputed between Baghdad and Erbil, the seat of Iraqi Kurdistan region, voted in a non-binding, controversial secession referendum.

Organized by Iraq’s Kurdistan Regional Government, the vote has been denounced by all regional countries as well as Iraq’s federal government.  The ballot is expected to return a majority “yes” vote when results are announced by Wednesday.

Larijani pointed to the past Iranian support for Kurdish people, saying that Tehran immediately responded to Erbil and Baghdad’s call for help when IS took swathes of the country during lightning attacks in 2014.

“At the time when no country stood up for Baghdad and Erbil, Iran lent support to Iraqi and Kurdish people, which led to the suppression of the terrorist group in the past three years,” the speaker said.

  Israeli Ploy

Chairman of the General Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces Major General Mohammad Baqeri described the referendum as a plot hatched by Israel.

“The Zionist regime of Israel is behind the referendum in Iraq’s Kurdistan,” he said.

The Israeli regime has been the only backer of the referendum.

The Iraqi government ruled out talks on possible secession for Kurdish-held parts of northern Iraq, adding that the referendum was illegal under Iraqi law and international standards.

“We are not ready to discuss or have a dialogue about the results of the referendum because it is unconstitutional,” Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said in a speech on Monday night.

He also ordered security services “to protect citizens being threatened and coerced” in the Kurdish region, after reports that Arabs in a small town in eastern Iraq were compelled to vote “yes”.

According to Al Jazeera, Iraq’s Army has joined Turkish forces to conduct joint military drills along their common border, military officials said on Tuesday.

Turkey, which has a sizable Kurdish population and is facing a Kurdish insurgency, is fiercely opposed to the vote, with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan hinting on military intervention on Monday.

Erdogan, speaking at a conference in Ankara, pointed to Turkish military exercises underway along Turkey’s border with the Iraqi Kurdish region and said that “our military is not (there) for nothing”.

“We could arrive suddenly one night,” he said, adding that Turkey would take political, economic as well as military measures against Iraqi Kurds’ attempts to gain independence. He also suggested that Turkey could halt oil flows from a pipeline from northern Iraq.

Iraqi Kurdistan is a landlocked region that is heavily dependent on its neighbors.


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